Hot Trod into Liddesdale

Here’s a tale that’s got pretty much all the elements which made the Border Reivers so infamous in the 16th century. Cross-border cattle stealing in Northumberland by classic reiver names, hot trod, and an end in Liddesdale where murder and revenge are cruelly meted out.

Lonely Pundershaw farm today deep in the heart of Kielder Forest [Photo:Oliver Dixon]

In July bygaine a year, the Kynmonts now in prison with their complices to the number of 16 men or thereabouts, did steale out of the lands of Pundershaw in Northumberland four score of kye and oxen, appertaining to Mr Cuthbert Hearon of Chipchase which goods the friends and servants of the said Mr Cuthbert Hearon to the number of thrie score of men or thereabout did follow into the Debatable land whom the stealers pursuing to be comed amongst them; John Armstrong called of Parknow and Geordie Armstrong his brother, being comed from that road immediately before, did goe out of Geordie’s house, set upon Edward Charleton of Antoun Hill one of the followers upon whom the said John discharged two pistols and mist him, but the said Anton Hill discharging a carrabine upon John, killed him.

Hereupon the whole crew of Kinmonts and the rest of the country people did rise, followed Anton Hill who did flie more than two myles up Carshope, took him, brought him back through Liddell until they came to the Burnmouth on Tinnisburn.  And being informed there that Parknow was dead, four of the Kinmonts to wit Geordie, Francie, Gleed Jamie Armstrong and Will. Armstrong of Woodhead fell upon the said Anton Hill, and most cruelly murthered him. Of this fact Robert Scott called of Headshaw, William Armstrong called Will of the Harelaw, Jamie Wilson son to Geordie Wilson alias Boots shoemaker in Burnmouth and John Armstrong son in law to the said Geordie Wilson in Burnmouth were eye witnesses.

Immediatlie after, the same four Kinmonts fell upon one [blank] Thompson at the Demainholme, whom they also killed, and then they came to other two of the followers called Carshope’s brethren, one of which they killed outright, the other they left for dead. Of this slaughter William Ellott then dwelling in Demainholme, now in Northumberland and Christie Thomson brother to Edward Thomson in Geilfoot were eye witnesses.

This is a true story as told by the English authorities. However it took place around 1644 when the reiving days were thought to be long gone. It seems that the ‘Middle Shires’ had not totally cast off the reiving past. These bands of lawless men became widely known as the Mosstroopers. Story transcribed from the Buccleuch Muniments in the National Records of Scotland.

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